How to Plan an Ottawa Winter Staycation With Your Family

Ottawa Staycation

Where to stay, where to eat, and where to play with the kids this winter in Ottawa

When the weather turns cold in Ottawa, we all approach it differently. Some of us embrace the cooler temperatures and book our passes to the ski hills, some make plans to grab extra library books and bundle ourselves up for the weekend, or we may Google ‘last minute trips south’.

Another option is to make plans for a mini family getaway right here in Ottawa. By booking a hotel downtown, we can escape the everyday and explore the city like tourists. Here’s how to plan your Ottawa staycation this winter.

Where to Play

When planning what to do with the kids for your staycation, it may be a bit weather dependant, but that’s life in Ottawa. No matter your plans, being able to walk to your destinations will save you time and the stress of parking, but if you are driving, everything is very close to downtown.

With Winterlude around the corner, you won’t be at a loss for outdoor activities. Winterlude runs from February 2 until February 19 and the kids will love the winter playground at Snowflake Kingdom. We always recommend skating on the Rideau Canal, a must for every Ottawa resident and tourist alike. You can also check out the special Canada 150 Rink at Parliament Hill, but it’s only here until February 25.

Skating at Parliament Hill

Museums are nearby and you can walk to the National Gallery of Canada (on Sundays they offer special kid-friendly programming), head to the Canada Museum of History and the Children’s Museum in Gatineau, or drive a short distance to the Canadian Museum of Nature.

Canadian Museum of Nature

Savvy Tip: The local museums have days and times when entry is free, or you can try to borrow a library pass which will cut down on your staycation costs!

Where to Stay

Staying within walking distance to the Rideau Canal, Museums and Winterlude offers the added benefit of not having to load the kids (and all your gear) in the car over and over again to get to your destinations. It reduces the stress of finding parking, and spending time walking and exploring together is quality bonding time.

The Courtyard by Marriott Ottawa Downtown is located in the heart of the Byward Market near restaurants and attractions for your family. It’s easy to get to and parking is available above or below ground. The rooms are spacious which is crucial when travelling with so much stuff that the kids need, but even more so with winter gear. The rooms include a fridge to keep extra snacks or milk in (this is essential when travelling with children). There’s a large kid-friendly pool that features an additional shallow baby and toddler pool for extra fun without having to leave the hotel. We love how close the Courtyard by Marriott Ottawa Downtown is to everything, like the Rideau Canal or Parliament Hill.

The hotel pool – always a kid favourite!

Savvy Tip: There’s a bistro on site at the hotel with a tasty selection for breakfast, snacks or quick meals if you prefer to eat in.  

Where to Eat

If you stay downtown in the heart of it all, you are always a hop, skip and a walk away from amazing food. But enjoying the foodie scene in Ottawa with the kids may not be like it once was when just you and your partner were making 8 pm dinner reservations. Now you have the little ones with you to consider. This means location and menu options matter for more than just you and your spouse (especially if you have picky eaters). Don’t compromise on taste. There are plenty of family friendly, delicious options.

The Aulde Dubliner on Williams Street has an affordable $6 kids menu with generous portions of food they’ll love (like fries and chicken fingers or a burger) and of course a menu that you’ll enjoy too (order the Irish Stew!). If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to catch a live music performance as well. For a more traditional diner experience with a retro feel, visit Zak’s Diner and you can surprise them with an impressive milkshake (or head to Zak’s Cantina right beside it). Tucker’s Marketplace has a buffet for brunch or dinner which means everyone can choose the meal that’s perfect for them. We love buffet with the kids! And you’ll find the family favourite pizza at Fiazza or The Grand. If everyone is overtired or you don’t want a long sit down meal, the Rideau Centre in the Byward Market has a food court that’s convenient and full of options.

Savvy Tip: You won’t want to miss eating a Beavertail. Find one in the Market, or right on the canal after you skate.

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